Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Painting the Westy Top

The biggest project so far this year has been the prep and painting of the Westfalia pop-top on the '76 bus. It was certainly an arduous task, fighting my Schmidt-like urge to rush it. I'm very happy with the results and my resolve to make the right decision every step of the way... For example, Tremclad paint at $30 a gallon, or Interlux Boat paint at $30 a quart? I chose Interlux. Scuff up the old paint or take it right off? I took it right off. Live with the solvent popping after the first coat or wet-sand it smooth? I wet-sanded it. Leave it with two coats or spray on a third? I sprayed a third... You get the drift.

As I mentioned I used Interlux Premium Yacht Enamel and their special thinner for spraying. Old paint was removed with 220 grit sandpaper on my dual action air sander. Detail work was done with 220 and 180 grit by hand. The inside of the luggage rack was sprayed with a paintable rubber undercoating to give it some resilience. Plastic filler and spot putty were also used as needed on the remaining surface. As if the two quarts of paint and filler (total of about $100) wasn't enough, I'm sure I'm into $100 in other miscellaneous hardware, sandpaper, filler, etc. If elbow grease had a price I'd be into much more!

I sprayed the paint (thinned about 5%) with my HVLP gun running at 55 psi with the trigger pulled and a 1.4mm tip. It isn't a true HVLP.

Here are some pictures of the process.

Paint stripped from rack and rubber undercoating visible.
Paint stripped from top, cleaned, masked for spraying.
Me (finally) wearing a proper mask.
The first coat after it dried. Note the far side has been wet sanded. The near side shows the sediment and solvent popping that ruined my day.
More detailed shot of the wet sanding. As a sidenote I eliminated the problem on subsequent coats by 1) properly filtering the paint before it went in the gun, 2) upping the pressure to 55 psi for better atomization, and 3) spraying thinner coats.Here's the finished product after three coats.The finished luggage rack.
Finishing the reinstallation and trimwork.
My overall observations are that the finished product is a night and day difference. I like the results of the paint I chose, but wish it had a faster flash time. 16 hours is a long time to wait between coats...